7-year-old Harvest girl uses birthday to give back

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HARVEST, Ala. (WHNT) - If you ask most little girls under 10 what tops their birthday wish list, canned corn, kidney beans and baby carrots likely wouldn't make the cut. But at the ripe old age of 7, little Kendall Rae Preston of Harvest has decided to give back in a big way.

For the third year in a row, instead of asking for, "Nail polish: lots and lots of nail polish," Kendall says of most girls' dream gifts -- the Endeavor Elementary first grader has asked friends, family and practically anyone who'll listen to help her collect canned goods and non perishables.  She will donate the items to the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church Food Pantry.

"I do this because my birthday is like, right after Christmas and I said to mom that I had a bunch of toys that weren't even out of the box," Kendall remembers.

"It actually was all on her own," said her Mom, Joy Preston. "She came to me at 4 and said Santa was good to her that year, so I said the food pantry is always hit hard after Thanksgiving and  Christmas."

"Can I collect food?" Kendall asked.  She was about to turn 5.

"You've got a lot of friends, let's have them donate canned goods," suggested Mom. "And she ran with it."

Kendall says the best birthday present is the feeling she gets when her family drives the donations over.

"And then this year I don't even know what they're going to say, like, 'this is a lot more food,'" says Kendall, enveloped in a sea of peanut butter and Ramen Noodles.

"The family jumped in, the community jumped in, her school jumped in," says Mom of the effort, "and it's just quadrupled."

Don't let her age fool you. Kendall is in it for much more than a pat on the back.

"I'm doing this because I'm helping other people who don't have money and food so they'll be able to have something to eat."

Kendall and her family don't plan on halting the birthday tradition any time soon. And if it takes three tables to hold what Kendall managed to collect, just imagine what next year's haul will bring.

"It makes me very happy," Kendall smiles.

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